RAID 5 Server build using hot-swappable SATA II drives


Feb 10, 2009
Long time lurker, first time poster...

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has recently bulit a RAID 5 server configured with hot-swappable SATA II drives.

My goal is to build a server that will be the nucleus of my home network ro act as a file (20% of the time) and media server (80% of the time). Since the server will store family photos and be used by the whole family on a daily basis, I would like to implement a RAID 5 solution (with or without a hot-spare) to reduce downtime. Other specs will include a dual core processor (or better) and 4 GB of RAM.

I'm looking to order the parts online (leaning heavily towards Newegg) and build it myself. So far the biggest challenge, by far, has been selecting the right PC case (must support the hot-swappable SATA II drives) and SATA II RAID Controller (once again, to support the hot-swappable drives and to interface with the backplane the drives will likely be plugged into). I estimate my budget on these two components to be around $350. (Yes, I know some controllers sell for $500+ all by themselves)

If you have recently built a similiar server that you're happy with, I'd like to hear about it. In addition, it would be helpful if you shared the parts you used for the major components and where you purchased them.




Hmm, I think my post got deleted somehow, anyhow:

The Antec 300 only has 3 5.25" bays, so using that enclosure will not allow you to have an optical drive. You could put in a CD drive, and a harddrive inside, install what you need, then take out the CD drive to make space for the hot swappable drives.


Aug 21, 2007

the OP is planning on putting the RAID array in an external enclosure, if you would read the rest of his 2nd post. That case will be fine for what he is planning on doing.
You will need to reset your expectations regarding your budget for a case and controller, I will tell you right now that $350 will not cover the cost of a decent dedicated RAID controller, case, and hot swap bays. But then again, that also depends on what you are willing to settle for...

What OS do you plan on using for your home server? Windows Home Server? FreeNAS? OpenFiler? WindowsXP? The OS you choose will set the baseline hardware (mobo, proc, and total RAM) requirements. If Windows Home Server, then yes, a dual core proc with 2GB RAM will be needed, but if you opt for OpenFiler or FreeNAS, a >2GHz single core Skt478 P4 with 512MB RAM will be plenty enough.

A used 3Ware 8506-8LP controller card cost anywhere from $75 - $150 on eBay auction. The next gen 95xx series usually average over $200. Another thing to think about, is the RAID controller card to fit into a PCI-X slot or a PCI-e slot? Hardware controller cards that use a PCI-e slot are more expensive that those that fit into a PCI-X slot.

You can pick up a decent software RAID controller card pretty cheap, but that depends on what OS you are going to use as well. Most cheap software controller cards do not fully support Linux, FreeBSD, etc...And, if you really want to go ghetto with your RAID5 array, then get a mobo with an ICH9R or ICH10R southbridge chip and just use the mobo RAID5.

As far as cases go, do you want hot swap bays with a backplane? Something like the Chenbro SR107 is a nice server case and has an option for up to 8 hot swap bays. You can buy aftermarket hard drive cages with backplanes and fit them into the case 5.25 bays. But that depends on the case and hard drives cages.

In all seriousness, if you really want to set up a RAID5 file/media server, then I recommend you devote the majority of your budget to a good hardware RAID controller card and the hard drives, and don't cheap out. Newegg is great, but don't discount used/aftermarket parts off eBay either.